Safe Computing at Simmons
Article Reference NumberAA-02035
Simmons College takes information security very seriously. You can help keep your computer and your data safe by following these steps.
- Password Security
- Email Safety
- Preventing Unauthorized Access
- File Sharing
- Other Safety Concerns
Your password is the key to your electronic identity. It verifies your identity and gives you certain privileges.
Tips for creating a strong password:
Email SafetyTips for using email securely:
- Choose a password that is at least six characters long.
- Include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and non-alpha-numeric symbols ($, @, ~, #, &, etc).
- Avoid your birth-date, your username, your Simmons ID number, your telephone number, and proper names or dictionary words.
- Do not disclose your password to anyone, even other members of the Simmons College community.
- Be skeptical of attachments. Even if you know the person sending you the message, if you are not expecting an attachment, don't open it.
- Be skeptical of links to web sites. Rather than clicking on a link within your email message, copy the URL and paste it into your web browser. Sometimes the underlying URL is different from what appears in the email message.
- Never transmit financial, account or any other information you consider private via email. Sending an email message is like sending a postcard: it is easily read by people other than those for whom it was intended, including by having others forward your message to others. Documents can be sent securely to and from Simmons via our secure file transfer service at xfer.simmons.edu.
- Avoid being "phished." Con artists try to trick you into providing personal information through email or onto a web page as though they were a vendor (such as PayPal or Citibank) with which you normally do business.
- Avoid spam (unsolicited email). Simmons blocks well-known sources of spam, but much of the spam out there cannot be filtered this way.
Preventing unauthorized access to your dataNever leave your computer unattended. Set a screensaver or sleep mode password and, most importantly, log off before you leave a public computer.
Other Safety Concerns
While file sharing applications do have legitimate uses, many files being shared are not legally distributed and may contain spyware or viruses.
The motion picture and sound industry is quite serious about going after copyright violators, which have included college students. Simmons has a number of policies and procedures that it is important all students, staff, and faculty understand and follow. Simmons also maintains a list of alternatives to file sharing.
1. Browser Safety
2. Online Shopping
- Pay attention to where links take you. Look at the URL--does it look like the web site you intended to visit?
- Keep your web browser up-to-date. Updates often include new security measures.
- If you are unsure whether installing certain browser add-ons are safe or needed, please contact the Simmons Service Desk for advice.
3. Avoid Identity Theft
- If you are shopping online or filling out a form with any personal information:
- Make sure the URL begins with the letters "https" rather than "http," and look for the lock at the bottom of your web browser. The lock and https indicate that you are using a "secure" web site that will encrypt the data you submit.
- If you have doubts about an individual's or company's legitimacy, do a web search to gather information.
- Be cautious when responding to special offers, especially when they come through unsolicited email and be cautious when dealing with websites based outside of United States.
4. PhishingThis type of scam uses emails purporting to be from a bank, Internet Service Provider or other business with which you may do business. The email presents an apparently important reason for you to "confirm" information with them and gives you a link to an official-looking website. Even Simmons own website has been copied for this purpose.
- Unless absolutely necessary, do not supply your social security number.
- Check your bank account and credit card statements regularly for any unauthorized activity
- For more information about identity theft, click here.
You can avoid most phishing attempts by doing the following:
- Be suspicious of emails seeking personal information
- Examine web addresses (URLs) in emails to see if they look like legitimate addresses
- In general, if a URL appears in an email, type the URL directly into your browser rather than clicking or copying and pasting.
- If in doubt, check with the Service Desk (617-521-2222, servicedesk.simmons.edu)